Summary: Next in the Heroes of Faith series from Hebrews 11, this sermon is about Sarah.
It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise.
— Hebrews 11:17 NCV
The story of Sarah’s faith is, in many ways, a love story. Sarah’s faith in God was invariably entwined with her love for her husband, Abraham. Her name was originally Sarai, meaning princess. My own daughter is named after her. Together, Abraham and Sarah became the father and mother of the Jewish race. As such, Sarah remains one of the most important female figures in world history.
The Bible also tells us that Sarah was a woman of remarkable beauty. She was so stunning, in fact, that she drew the attention and affections of both pharaohs and peasants alike (see Genesis 12:10-20). Hebrew folk lore ranks her right up there next to Eve, who was regarded as the most attractive and perfect woman who ever lived. (Of course, none of them had ever met my wife, Ashley, so it’s really not a fair judgment.)
The Bible says that “beauty is a fading flower” (Isaiah 28:1 KJV). Yet, for Sarah, just the opposite seemed to be true. She was apparently “aged to perfection,” as they say, because she only grew more radiant with each passing year. Even at the age of ninety, Abraham was afraid that kings and princes would fall in love with her bewildering beauty—and he was right on at least two occasions! But more important than her unsurpassed place in history or her unparallel beauty, was her personal faith in God.
Sarah is one of only two women mentioned in Hebrews 11 as examples of faith. However, Sarah probably never expected to be counted among the “Heroes of Hebrews.” Her journey of faith was a long, unpredictable rollercoaster of highs and lows—sometimes there seemed to be more lows than highs. So to put Sarah’s story of faith in the proper context, we have to go back to the beginning. Sarah’s faith-journey begins with an...
1. Extended Pilgrimage
Abraham (who was then known as Abram) and Sarai were living together with Abraham’s family in the city of Ur, in Babylonia. And after Abraham’s brother died, Sarai and Abraham helped raise their nephew, Lot, and lived with Abram’s father, Terah. But one fateful day, God spoke to Abraham. He said, “Leave your country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1 NCV).
Neither Abraham nor Sarah knew where God was calling them to, but they knew where he was calling them from! After the flood, Noah, his sons and their wives repopulated the Middle East. But within a few short generations they had become a godless society once again. Actually, they became a polytheistic society—that is, a culture that believed in many gods. Shem, Ham and Japeth (Noah’s sons) all had enough children to form their own nation. They disregarded God’s command to spread out over all the earth and, instead, built a giant ziggurat—known as the Tower of Babel—as a symbol of their unity and independence. God, of course, destroyed the tower and scattered the people, confusing their language and forcing them to spread out from there over the whole world.